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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cerebral Palsy
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Cerebral Palsy

Alternate Names : CP

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Cerebral palsy, which is also called CP, is a motor impairment due to an injury to the brain before it is fully mature. These motor problems are initially seen in the first few years of the child's life and generally don't worsen over time.

What is going on in the body?

Cerebral palsy is a motor impairment caused by an injury to the brain. The brain damage may occur before birth, during delivery, or even after the child is born. There are four major types of cerebral palsy:

  • spastic CP, which involves permanent stiffness and contracture of the muscles
  • athetoid, or dyskinetic, CP, which causes slow writhing movements
  • ataxic CP, which is rare and affects the balance and depth perception
  • mixed forms of CP, which include characteristics of the other three types of CP
  • At one time, CP was thought to be caused by the infant getting too little oxygen during birth. More recent studies suggest that most cases come from problems during pregnancy.

    What are the causes and risks of the disease?

    The brain damage that causes CP can occur before birth, during labor and delivery, or in the first few years of life. Common causes include the following:

  • brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • head injuries from accidents or child abuse
  • newborn jaundice
  • Rh incompatibility between the mother and fetus
  • severe oxygen deprivation during labor or delivery
  • stroke in the fetus or newborn, caused by clotting problems
  • TORCH infections in the mother during pregnancy
  • Following are some of the risk factors for cerebral palsy:

  • breech birth, in which the baby is delivered feet first
  • complicated labor and delivery
  • hypothyroidism, mental retardation, or seizures in the mother
  • low APGAR score, which is a measurement of the baby's health taken right after delivery
  • low birth weight and premature birth
  • multiple births, such as twins
  • nervous system abnormalities, such as a small brain
  • seizures in the newborn
  • vaginal bleeding or protein in the mother's urine during the third trimester of pregnancy


    Next section


    Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: John Wegmann, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/05/01

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